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Opening career pathways for talented urban youth

Elizabeth Resnick’s MassArt Workshop Engages Youth Designers with the Power of the Word

December 03 2014

We are honored that Elizabeth Resnick, Professor of Graphic Design at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, brought her reknown expertise as a design educator to Youth Design this summer, leading a workshop for students that engaged and challenged them in many different ways. Professor Resnick, an internationally-recognized design educator, author, and curator has been a dedicated advocate for Youth Design since its founding. The workshops she leads for our students always provide an eye-opening and transformative educational experience.

Professor Resnick began her workshop on "Three Expressive Modes of Visual Language: Practical, Poetical, Persuasive" with a presentation in her most notable area of expertise—social issues poster design. Her presentation introduced students to the many ways designers use visual language—text, image, color, and graphics—to convey a strong message about important social issues.

The assignment that followed—based on a design project required of all MassArt graphic design majors—challenged Youth Designers to create three small posters that showed how the same word can express three different meanings—practical, poetical, and persuasive—when it is paired with a different image.

The "practical" use of graphic design is to communicate information with a single meaning, characteristic of clarity for direct information. A design's "poetic" quality communicates emotionally with its audience through use of visual metaphor and symbolic imagery. Graphic designers use the "persuasive" mode when they shape visual communications to send a message from a specific point of view.

After Professor Resnick’s presentation, the students were divided into small groups. Each group was given a word: culture, diversity, consume, or community. With the assistance of Professor Resnick and Dan Vlahos, a graphic designer who also teaches at MassArt, the groups quickly brainstormed ideas about what images they might use to convey their word. Students were then brought to a classroom filled with computers in which they worked in their groups to create and print out their three posters. It was a fast-moving morning with each team working furiously to complete three designs that worked well as a group but also each conveyed a different message, within a tight time-frame!

After each team presented their work, Liz and Dan talked together to determine a winning set of poster designs. Students on the winning team each recieved a stunning large poster designed by internationally-known poster designer Luba Lukova. 

We are grateful to Professor Rensnick for her many years of dedication to Youth Design!


Liz Resnick served on the Board of Directors of the AIGA Boston chapter (1989–2007) where she has organized numerous graphic design lectures and events. She is a member of the AIGA Boston Advisory Board, 2008-present.

Curated Exhibitions: Russell Mills: Within/Without (1991) with Teresa Flavin; Dutch Graphic Design: 1918-1945 (1994) with Alston W. Purvis; Makoto Saito: Art of the Poster (1999) with Jan Kubasiewicz; The Graphic Imperative: International Posters for Peace, Social Justice and The Environment 1965–2005 (2005) with Chaz Maviyane-Davies and Frank Baseman, and Graphic Intervention:25 Years of International AIDS Awareness Posters 1985-2010 (2010) with Javier Cortés.

Publications Design for Communication: Conceptual Graphic Design Basics for John Wiley & Sons Publishers (2003) and Graphic Design: A Problem-Solving Approach to Visual Communication for Prentice-Hall Publications (1984). Liz also writes short critical commentaries and event reviews, and has published interviews with prominent designers and design educators in EYE (England), AIGA Journal of Graphic Design (USA), Graphics International (England), tipoGrafica (Argentina) and IDEA (Japan).

Awards: Type Directors’ Club, Print Magazine Annual, AIGA Fellows Award, AIGA Boston 2007.

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